In mid-May, an X-47B unmanned combat air system, otherwise known as a drone, conducted a touch-and-go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush -- it was the first time any unmanned aircraft had completed such a landing at sea.
For this particular vessel, the feat represents the most significant technology maturation of the program, according to the U.S. Navy, which notes that ship navigation and precision touchdown of the X-47B are critical tech elements for all future drone aircrafts, and these demonstrations show just how ready the Navy is to move forward with drone operations.
"When we operate in a very dynamic and harsh carrier environment, we need networks and communication links that have high integrity and reliability to ensure mission success and provide precise navigation and placement of an unmanned vehicle," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for the Unmanned Combat Air Systems program office.
Main photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis